Toughened by three years of COVID, Colorado businesses not too worried about upswing in cases

Kevin J. Beaty
Neil Phippen and Bre Paterson eat a flight of ice cream at High Point Creamery on Tennyson Street, April 4, 2018.

COVID cases in Colorado are on the upswing again. But people appear to be taking the latest uptick in stride when it comes to getting out to shop at local small businesses.

On a recent Thursday, the cash register was humming at Mouthfuls, a pet store on Tennyson Street in north Denver.

“It seems like people are kind of used to this by now, and they're just doing their part to make sure that they're staying safe and healthy,” said Mouthfuls’ owner Kaiti Asmussen.  “I've seen a lot more people wearing masks, not just here, but at the grocery store and out and about in the community.”  

Business has been a little slower lately, Asmussen said, and she’s noticed a slight increase in deliveries. But that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with COVID. Business always gets a little sluggish at the tail end of summer, she said.

As of now, there’s no plan to institute any COVID restrictions, like requiring masks or limiting foot traffic in the store.

“Whatever makes people comfortable. If we hear from our community that they want us to be in masks, we'll start wearing masks again … We're always open to those different possibilities,” Asmussen said.

There’s been no slowdown at High Point Creamery, an ice cream shop a couple blocks down the street, according to Heath Holbert, who runs the store.  He’s seen more customers in masks lately, too — and some employees also feel safer with masks on — but the headlines about COVID cases aren’t keeping people away.

“They want their ice cream and they'll, I guess, risk it to get their ice cream,” Hobert said.  

The shops on this hip commercial strip in the Berkley neighborhood are always buzzing. But they weren’t spared when COVID first hit more than three years ago. The area all but shut down. 

“It was kind of daunting that a lot of our employees did have to be kind of furloughed for a little bit, and we were worried that things might not pick back up, but luckily they did,” Holbert said.

Hobert said the Highpoint’s downtown location took the biggest hit during the peak of COVID, although that store has since recovered, too.

Christine Parisi owns Parisi, a popular Italian restaurant for families on Tennyson Street. She’s confident her business will be able to handle whatever happens next with COVID. She gives a lot of credit to the vaccine.

“I don’t feel as threatened by these new variants,” she said.  

Even if cases do shoot up more dramatically, she feels prepared because of everything she and her staff have learned about managing the disease over the past few years. Plus, there’s things she decided to keep in place, like glass partitions between the booths.

“With those extra things already in place permanently I feel like it's easier for us to transition to the next phase if there is another phase,” Parisi said.